- Ausmus' father, Harry, is a retired professor of European history at Southern Connecticut State and the author of A Schopenhauerian Critique of Nietzsche's Thought, which Brad calls his "favorite book."
Brad was born in Connecticut. As a child, he would go to sleep some nights thinking of playing in Fenway Park alongside such childhood heroes as Jim Rice, Bernie Carbo, and Butch Hobson.
Then he signed with the Yankees.
Before signing with the Yanks out of high school, Ausmus insisted that he be allowed to pursue his Ivy League education. At Dartmouth, Brad was a government major. He's just five courses shy of his degree in political science. Brad would fax his homework assignments back to Dartmouth from spring training in Ft. Lauderdale.
He scored 1220 on his SATs and never received a grade below a 'B' in any class at Dartmouth, receiving a bachelor's degree in government.
- During the offseason, when he was home in Connecticut for the holidays, Brad used to substitute teach reading and math in a school for the mentally and physically handicapped.
- Ausmus once deliverd shrubs and trees for a nursery.
- He was forced to leave the Yankees 1992 spring camp after contracting mononucleosis.
- Brad and then-Tigers manager Larry Parrish were suspended for two games by the Amrican League for their overly-excessive arguing with umpire Chuck Meriwether in a May 31, 1999 game at Boston.
- Ausmus went ot his first All-Star Game in 1999. And as a double bonus, it was at Fenway Park, where he saw baseball games as a child living in Connecticut.
Ausmus's mother is Jewish, but he says, "I wasn't raised Jewish and I've never really practiced the Jewish religion."
He didn't take off in honor of Yom Kippur, the Jewish faith's Day of Atonement, as did Shawn Green of the Dodgers, because Brad felt it would be insincere.
Ausmus has a beautiful trophy and movie room in his San Diego home. He has autographed jerseys of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and future Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell. Ausmus also prominently displays the jersey he wore at the 1999 All-Star Game in Boston, his first and only All-Star appearance. The room has a drop-down screen for his extensive movie collection.
But there was only one problem with Ausmus's trophy-movie room -- it had no trophies. In 2001, he won a Gold Glove Award, which gives him his first trophy for his "trophy room."
Ausmus was the player representative for the Astros until May 2002, when he dumped it off on fellow-catcher Gregg Zaun. "It was just not something I really wanted to do," Ausmus said.
Diane Sawyer of ABC's "Good Morning America" told the Houston Chronicle on April 30, 2002, when she threw out the first pitch before an Astros game, that she's "moon-eyed goofy for Brad Ausmus. So, I'm ready for my little pathetic, girlie, dweebie, wimp, horrible pitch, and I looked up and there he was and I just wanted to drop the ball and jump on him."
Ausmus learned of the infatuation two days later when teammates tacked up the Chronicle's interview with Sawyer.
- In September 2003, the Houston media went ga-ga over Brad's good looks, naming the catcher the "best-looking Astro" in a survey magazine published by The Houston Chronicle called "Ultimate Houston Magazine."
Ausmus entered the clubhouse to see a framed version of the magazine's cover hanging above his locker. The newspaper sent it to Minute Maid Park, but Jeff Bagwell made sure it was prominently displayed in the home clubhouse. Bagwell read through the writeup on his friend and teammate and was flabbergasted at the sentence describing Ausmus's "killer smile and killer tush."
"You have got to be kidding me," Bagwell said. "That's got to be a misprint."
Why such little support from his friend? Responded Ausmus: "It's because his butt is so immense."
Brad says the one talent he'd most like to have is to be able to sing and play the guitar.
He loves to surf.
- In 2002, Brad made history, albeit in a dubious fashion. He grounded into a double play for the 30th time in one season, matching the National League mark set by Ernie Lombardi, also a catcher, in 1938 with the Cincinnati Reds. Jim Rice of the Red Sox holds the Major League record with 36 in 1984.
Ausmus is a news junkie. He is the antithesis of the stereotypical jock who reads nothing but the sports pages and watches nothing but SportsCenter. Sometimes, it's almost as if he is the missing link between the outside world and the inside of the Astros' clubhouse.
"He'll come in and say, 'Did you hear about ...' Jeff Bagwell said. "I'll say, 'Where did you read that? The bottom line?' He says 'Yep.' He's a big CNN Bottom Line reader. That's where he comes up with a lot of his useless knowledge."
Brad has plenty of opinions on a variety of topics, many that extend beyond baseball. One of the few college graduates when he was in the Astros' clubhouse, Ausmus obtained a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth, majoring in government. While baseball is his trade, the catcher is well-read and extremely aware of the very uncertain times that loom in the real (non-baseball) world.
One year, it wasn't until the Astros' 16th game of the season, on April 18, that Brad got his new catching gear. Most catchers get new gear at the start of spring training, and that's in February.
Ausmus usually changes equipment every season, but Rawlings sent him shin guards in the wrong size to Kissimmee, Florida, during spring training. All-Star, which makes Ausmus' catcher's helmet-mask, sent him a helmet in the wrong size in February. The new helmet-mask he received on April 18 was too big.
His mask, which looks more like an NHL goalie's mask than a traditional catcher's mask, is one of the pieces that raises the most money at auction during the Astros Wives' Gala. Ausmus's mask for 2003 has "Astros" scripted on the right and left sides and a bull skull sticker at the top with the Astros' star in the middle of the skull.
April 14, Brad's birthday: According to the Astros' media relations staff, he shares his birthday with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, country music legend Loretta Lynn, and baseball's all-time hits leader, Pete Rose. Ausmus added two of his own: David Justice and Greg Maddux.
- Ausmus passed Alan Ashby for the Astros franchise record for most games played at catcher in September 2005.
- On August 2, 1997, Ausmus was the first catcher to wear the Fox Sports Catcher-Cam, a small camera on top of his mask. The Astros won 6-0 vs. the Mets.
Brad has a solid future as a Major League manager, and that is a well-known fact. He is regarded as one of the most intelligent and well-versed players in today's game.
Astros manager Phil Garner believes Ausmus has the necessary tools to be a great manager, including a good temperament and an ability to relate to both position players and pitchers.
"He's got a very quick wit," Garner said. "I don't know that that's necessary, but it helps. He's very confident. That part gets tested. The things you do aren't always going to work.
"You have to have confidence, but you also have to have the ability to sort of take an honest look at yourself. Sometimes, you have to change what you feel is right, but in my opinion, sometimes you have to be a little bit flexible. I think he can do that, too."
Former Astros teammate Carlos Lee owns a Brama bull named "Big Aus," that Lee entered in the 2008 World Brahman Congress, the most prestigious Brahman show competition in the world.
"The 'Big Aus' is big like the real big Aus," Lee said. "They're both big, they got big (backsides), and strong legs. They have a chance to win. At least the bull has a chance, the real 'Big Aus.'
"Now I got a problem because now I have to call the next bull the 'Big Puma' (in honor of Lance Berkman)." (Jose De Jesus Ortiz-Houston Chronicle-3/21/08)
Ausmus had a great finale on September 28, 2008, the last day of the season and Brad's last game in an Astros' uniform. Saying goodbye wasn’t easy, even for the sarcastic and stoic Ausmus, who admitted to getting as emotional as he can get during a pregame video tribute that mocked his lack of hitting.
But as was often the case in his 10 years as an Astro, Ausmus got the final word. Only this time, he punctuated it with his bat, drilling a two-run homer off former teammate Mike Hampton in the third inning to help the Astros cap their 2008 season with a 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Brad's Favorites: TV: Two and a Half Men, House, CNN.
Music: Jack Johnson, Nickelback, John Mayer, Ther Fray, Kid Rock, Rage Against the Machine.
Movies: Tombstone, Gladiator, Wedding Crashers, A Few Good Men, Fletch, Van Wilder.
Bookmarks on his computer: USA Today crossword, ESPN Baseball, Wavewatch.
Magazines: Surfer, Wine Enthusiast.
Athlete: Tiger Woods (Jeff D'Alessio-The Sporting News-January 19, 2009)
Three Examples of Brad Ausmus' brains, according to Phil Garner, his manager with both the Tigers and Astros:
1. I (Garner) let him run our pitchers' meetings starting about halfway through our first season together.
2. You know the movie "Bull Durham?" Brad is very much like the catcher, Crash Davis, who's smarter than everybody else.
3. When you're talking to Brad, you know he's either with you or ahead of you by his answers and by the way he quizzes you. He's got a very dry wit, and a little bit of a caustic nature, but it doesn't turn people off. It's something endearing. The way he approaches a conversation, how he's one step ahead of you is your first clue that he's smarter than you. Well, smarter than me, anyway. (Phil Garner, as told to Ryan Fagan-Sporting News-9/27/10)
September 2012: Ausmus managed Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifier tournament.
September 19, 2015: Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus appreciates Justin Verlander's "bulldog" approach. On the same night former Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer had a fiery exchange on the mound with Nationals manager Matt Williams, to stay in his start, Justin Verlander had a statesmanlike response in support of his skipper Brad Ausmus as he exited the game against the Royals, even chiding fans for booing as reliever Alex Wilson entered with two outs in the ninth. To Ausmus, there's a value in both personalities, and a nuance to handling them.
"Sometimes, I want to know how they feel," Ausmus said. "And sometimes, I don't care. Sometimes it's time to make a move."
Ausmus didn't see Scherzer's mound exchange, but he read about it. To Ausmus it sounded familiar, because he saw it last year. Ausmus kept Scherzer in for one more batter last June against the Red Sox and saw David Ortiz burn him for an RBI double. It made no difference in the eventual outcome, but it was a scrutinized decision because of the larger question of how Ausmus would handle a star-studded pitching staff.
"That's just Max," Ausmus said of his reaction. "Max has done that with me. He's emotional on the mound. When he wants to stay in, he's very emphatic about it. He wasn't yelling at Matt Williams about anything. Sometimes with guys like that, you'll go out and ask them how are you doing. They're at 100-some pitches, end of the season, they might be tiring, and you just want to get a feel for if they're OK. And with Max, it's very easy, Max is very honest with you. If he wants to be in, he's going to be emphatic and emotional about it. And if he thinks he's done, he's going to say, 'I've kind of emptied the tank here.' Talk about a mountain out (of) a molehill."
In contrast, Verlander admitted the obvious: he'll always tell a manager he wants to stay in the game, no matter how he feels. "I'm never going to take myself out of a game," he said. "I'm going to be honest with the manager and let them know how I feel. I felt good . But I'm never pleased to come out."
They're two different personalities that require different approaches. Ausmus said he appreciates both.
"I think there's upside to both of them," he said. "It's nice to have a guy be honest, but it's also nice to have a guy who wants to be in the game for 27 outs, which is kind of a lost mindset nowadays."
Ausmus did not have such a discussion because he had already made his decision, not wanting Verlander to face Salvador Perez one more time given the career numbers.
"It was a no-brainer, time to make a move," Ausmus said. "There's been times when I've gone out there to Justin to make sure he's OK if his pitch count's up a little bit, see if he's tired. Now with Justin, you know he wants to stay in for 27 outs, so you have to kind of take what he says with a grain of salt, parse through it and figure out what he really said." (J Beck - MLB.com - September 20, 2015).
Feb 12, 2019: Spring Training is officially here for the Angels, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Tempe Diablo Stadium. And there's a new face at manager, with Brad Ausmus replacing longtime skipper Mike Scioscia this offseason.
It's the first time the Angels have headed into Spring Training without Scioscia at the helm since 1999, and Ausmus is tasked with trying to help the club reach the postseason for the first time since 2014. Ausmus has managerial experience, having served as Tigers skipper from 2014-17, and he is plenty familiar with the Angels, as he was a special assistant to general manager Billy Eppler last season.
"This is a little different scenario for me because going into Detroit, I didn't have any background there, so I was getting to know the people as I went as well as trying to prepare for a season," Ausmus said. "It's different because I was with the Angels all last year. I know the entire front office. I know the players. The players know who I am. So I think that's going to make it a little bit easier. The transition will be much easier."
Ausmus also used his year in the front office to learn more about analytics, which he plans to use more than he did in Detroit. But he cautioned there can be information overload for the players, so it'll be important for him and his staff to find the right data to give to the players.
"Analytics is part of it, and part of the reason I came on with Billy was I wanted to dive into that a little more," Ausmus said. "I wanted to learn more about what some of the measurements are and how they apply and what's important. And so I spent a good portion of this previous season as a special assistant learning. And Billy has not been shy about it -- we're going to use the information. The information helps us win games. One of the main jobs for a manager and coaching staff is taking that information and putting it in simple baseball lingo." (R Bollinger - MLB.com - Feb 12, 2019)
- June 1987: The Yankees chose Ausmus in the 47th round, out of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
- November 17, 1992: The Rockies made Ausmus their 27th pick in the Expansion Draft. The Yankees privately questioned whether Brad, despite superior defensive skills and rare speed for a catcher, would hit enough to sustain himself at the big league level.
- July 26, 1993: The Padres acquired Brad and P Doug Bochtler and P Andy Ashby by sending pitchers Bruce Hurst and Greg W. Harris to the Rockies.
- June 18, 1996: The Tigers sent C John Flaherty and SS Chris Gomez to the Padres to acquire Brad, SS Andujar Cedeno, and P Russ Spear.
- December 10, 1996: The Astros sent OF Brian Hunter, INF Orlando Miller, P Todd Jones and P Doug Brocail to the Tigers to acquire Brad, INF Daryle Ward and pitchers C.J. Nitkowski, Jose Lima, and Trever Miller.
January 23, 1998: Brad signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract with Houston.
- January 14, 1999: The Tigers sent C Paul Bako, pitchers Dean Crow, Mark Persails and Brian Powell, and 3B Carlos Villalobos to the Astros; acquiring Ausmus and P C.J. Nitkowski.
- February 2, 1999: Brad signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Tigers.
- December 2000: The Tigers sent P Chris Holt, C Mitch Meluskey and OF Roger Cedeno to the Astros to acquire Ausmus, P Nelson Cruz and P Doug Brocail.
- November 19, 2003: Brad signed a two-year, $4 million contract with the Astros, paying $1 million in 2004 and $3 million in 2005.
- December 13, 2005: The Astros signed Ausmus to a two-year, $7.5 million contract.
- October 30, 2007: Brad signed with the Astros again, for $2 million for one year, plus incentives.
- Occtoer 31, 2008: Ausmus filed for free agency.
- January 21, 2009: Brad signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Dodgers.
- November 6, 2009: Ausmus filed for free agency.
January 26, 2010: Brad signed with the Dodgers, again receiving a one-year, $850,000 contract for 2010. That was Brad's last year as a player.
May 7, 2019: Brad Ausmus looked different in Angels red as he sat in the visitors' dugout at Comerica Park and talked with reporters. His quick wit and dry sense of humor, though, still fit him well. When a reporter pointed out that the former Tigers manager still receives a heavy amount of blame from fans for the team’s slide after four consecutive American League Central titles, Ausmus was ready with a response.
“You can keep blaming me,” he said. “It makes it easier.”
The last time Ausmus was at Comerica Park, he was playing out the final days of his Tigers managerial tenure as Detroit was beginning its rebuilding project. Ausmus returned as manager of an Angels squad that is built to contend now, despite a slow start so far this season. Though Ausmus has been gone just over a year, only 12 players on the Tigers’ active roster played for him.
Ausmus managed for four seasons in Detroit, winning a division title in 2014. The Tigers made a run to try to win it all by acquiring David Price that season, adding Yoenis Cespedes the following winter, then signing Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Upton a year later.
Ausmus was also at the helm for the dismantling of much of that roster, from J.D. Martinez’s trade to Arizona in July 2017 to the Upton and Justin Verlander trades at the end of August that season. A few weeks later, with Ausmus’ contract near its end, the two sides announced they were parting ways.
"It's nice to be back,” Ausmus said. “I had a great time when I was in Detroit. We didn't perform like I was hoping we would, but I loved the area I lived in and have a lot of good memories from here. I'm happy to be back."
- Nicholas Castellanos noted his first manager's personality. “Brad is analytical. He’s very intelligent. But sometimes he doesn’t communicate his feelings very well,” Castellanos answered. “It’s not his fault. It’s just how he is. But he’s great at being the way that he is. And without question, he’s a great manager."
Castellanos clarified to reporters what he meant, using a game from his rookie season as an example. After striking out in his first three at-bats against Indians ace Corey Kluber on July 19, 2014, Castellanos said Ausmus deadpanned that he’d better get a hit or he might be out of the lineup the next day.
“I got it,” said Castellanos, who doubled off Kluber in his final at-bat of that game. “I’m not one to take things personally whatsoever. The smirk towards the end also helped.”
“I love Brad. He was my first manager. I’ve grown a lot from him,” Castellanos said. “He called me in his office and had hard conversations with me that I needed to hear as a young player, and I responded well to them."
“Brad is who he is,” Castellanos said. “You guys know him from dealing with him when he was in Detroit. There’s a lot of people that really like Brad exactly the way he is. There’s other people who say he’s kind of a [mean guy] or whatever. Those are their opinions of those people. I like Brad a lot. I think he’s a great manager.” (Beck - mlb.com - 5/8/19)
|Birth City:||New Haven, CT|
|Draft:||Yankees #47 - 1987 - Out of Dartmouth College (NH)|
Because Ausmus is such a plus behind the plate, when he helps on offense, it is considered gravy. And Brad has developed into a pretty consistent contact hitter, despite not having much bat speed.
Only his light hitting kept him from establishing himself in the Majors earlier. Now, he hits line drives, but doesn't have much in the power department. Brad has developed into an ideal number two hitter in a lineup because of his ability to make good contact and hit for a decent batting average.
- Ausmus is only the eighth catcher in Major League history with at least 1,500 hits and 100 stolen bases. (2008)
- Ausmus handles fastballs (except for high heat), but breaking balls and off-speed stuff give him fits. Lefthanded pitching gives him some trouble.
- He has shortened his stroke and improved his eye. So he walks more than before. And he strikes out less.
- Brad is pretty good with the bunt. And he is adept at the hit-and-run, too.
- He has become a good clutch hitter. He is an intelligent hitter, knowing what pitch to look for in certain situations. He does his best hitting when he hits to the opposite field or drives the ball up the middle.
- In 2005, Ausmus added a leg kick to his swing. "I've always been an upper-body hitter," he said. "Strength really comes from your legs when you drive a baseball. By incorporating a leg kick, I'm trying to get my legs more involved. It forces me to shift my weight back before it comes forward."
- Midway through the 2002 season, Ausmus was in a bit of a slump, then borrowed a couple of Moises Alou's heavier bats and went on a 16-for-39 (.410) streak.
- In 2004, Brad was standing more upright at the plate, with his legs not as far apart as in the past.
- Brad brings speed to the catching fraternity. The team doesn't have to carry a third catcher because you don't have to pinch-run for him. In fact, Ausmus will even steal a base once in a while.
- He is an intelligent baserunner, too, showing good judgment on when to take an extra base.
- Entering the 2010 season, Ausmus had a .252 lifetime batting average, with 80 home runs and 605 RBI in 6,216 at-bats in his Major League career.
Ausmus is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. He is very flexible and agile, which allows him to give the pitcher an excellent, low target, as well as block balls in the dirt. But more importantly, he handles a pitching staff very well.
"Since Little League, I've been a good defensive catcher," Ausmus says.
Brad is very adept at blocking balls in the dirt. It's something he really takes pride in. He also has a real strong and accurate arm —a real cannon. And he has a swift release, making him a real good catcher defensively. He is very adept at handling pitchers and has become an excellent field leader. He asks a lot of intelligent questions of his coaches and does a good job of working on how they want the game thrown and what hitter's tendencies are.
Ausmus sets up on the outside corner in a steal situation so he can clear himself from the hitter and throw.
Pitchers are also comfortable with him because of his great ability to block pitches, his fleet feet and his ability to shut down the running game. And he is loaded with intangibles.
- Brad's biggest asset is probably his ability to handle young pitchers so well. He is so good with them, it really enhances their development.
- Ausmus knows how to vary patterns with certain hitters. So the pitchers have a tremendous amount of confidence in the pitches he calls.
He has been clocked consistently at 1.9 seconds delivering the ball to second base.
THROWING OUT BASE-RUNNERS
In 1995, his caught-stealing rate of 38% was fourth-best in the Majors.
In 1996, Ausmus threw out 40 of 81 attempting base-stealers, 33%.
In 1997, he led the National League in throwing out runners attempting to steal, nailing 49.5%, and had only seven errors.
In 1998, Brad threw out 36 percent of opposing base-thieves, fourth-best in the National League.
In 1999, he threw out 57% of attempting base-stealers.
In 2000, he caught 43.2% of American League runners trying to steal, the second-best percent in the Major Leagues.
In 2001, he was successful throwing out 48% of base-stealers (41-of-86), second-best in the Majors to Jason LaRue of the Reds.
In 2002, Ausmus threw out 31 of 96 runners who tried to steal off of him, despite playing with a sore right elbow for the first two months of the season.
In 2003, Brad threw out 35 percent (37 of 105) of opposing runners trying to steal. The 37 caught stealing was the second-highest total in the National League. Ausmus also participated in 13 double plays, the most he's racked up since '97 and set a new career-high with 982 putouts while being charged with just three passed balls in 1,158 innings.
- He receives the ball well. There are not a whole lot of catchers who can throw like Brad can. He blocks the low ball well, has good makeup and pitchers like throwing to him. He is small, but he has a good body. He is quick and has a lot of life in his legs. He is also fearless at blocking the plate.
In 1999, he committed just two errors and led Major League catchers with a .998 fielding percentage.
- In 2001, he had only three errors, posting a .997 fielding percent and won his first Gold Glove Award. He was also the first Houston catcher in franchise history to win a Gold Glove.
- In 2002, Ausmus repeated as Gold Glove winner.
- In 2003, Brad had only three passed balls, fewest among all starting catchers in the Majors.
- In 2005, Brad received his third career Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
In 2006, Ausmus led all catchers in games caught (138), starts (124), fielding percentage (.998), total chances (994), and innings caught (1,125).
He committed only two errors and allowed one passed ball.
That year, Brad threw out 16.7 percent of those baserunners who tried to steal on him, ranking him 20th-best in all of Major League Baseball.
Warming up on the sidelines, playing catch, Ausmus is paying close attention to the placement of his feet.
"I'm not working on my throwing per se," Ausmus said. "I just have to get the footwork down so when the arm comes around it all comes together."
When popping up from his crouch, Ausmus wants his right foot to point toward second base. Instead of turning his body toward the third-base dugout, he wants his first move to be slightly toward the direction he's throwing. Good-to-great catchers are able to receive the ball, set up, throw and deliver the ball to second base in less than two seconds. When using the proper footwork, Ausmus is below the two-second benchmark.
May 28, 2016: About three hours before the 12-3 loss to the A's, Brad Ausmus poked his head into the visiting manager's office at the Coliseum just as bench coach Gene Lamont was wrapping up a pregame meeting with reporters.
"Hey, here's Ausmus right here," Lamont joked. "Looks like he didn't find his suitcase either."
Ausmus rejoined the Tigers after missing their past two games because of family issues. He left the ballclub to be with family following the death of his mother, then flew to San Diego for a pre-planned day off to attend his daughter's high school graduation.
Lamont, who won 553 games in eight seasons as manager of the Chicago White Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates, handled all the managerial duties and guided Detroit to a 1-1 record in Ausmus' absence.
That ended following the pregame briefing with the media. With Ausmus back, the 69-year-old Lamont resumed his duties as bench coach.
Lamont also managed the Tigers for one game earlier this month while Ausmus served a one-game suspension after getting ejected from a game against the Twins. Ausmus got into a heated discussion with umpires in that May 16 game in Detroit and at one point removed his sweatshirt and covered home plate with it.
The Tigers had won four straight games and eight of nine before Ausmus flew to Connecticut to be with his family. (M Wagaman - MLB.com - May 29, 2016)
POST-PLAYING CAREER POSITIONS
2011: Ausmus joined the Padres organization as a special assistant to Baseball Operations.
November 2, 2013: Brad was named the Manager for the Tigers, replacing a retired Jim Leyland. He received a three-year contract, through 2016, with a club option for 2017.
September 26, 2015: Ausmus is staying on as Tigers manager. General manager Al Avila announced that Ausmus and his entire coaching staff will remain in charge for the 2016 season, ending speculation surrounding the second-year manager's future.
"After almost two months of watching this team play, evaluating our staff and the manager, a lot of discussion with my staff -- David Chadd, John Westhoff, Scott Bream, Jim Leyland, Al Kaline, amongst others -- I've decided that Brad Ausmus should be our manager going into 2016," Avila said.
Ausmus, hired in November 2013 by then-president and GM Dave Dombrowski, was entering the final season of his three-year contract.
Oct 5, 2016: Ausmus was signed back for a fourth year as the Tigers' manager. The team picked up the option for the final season on his original contract.
"Brad was instrumental in leading the team through adversity and with the development of our younger players, particularly the young starting pitchers," said general manager Al Avila. "The team improved from last season, and under the leadership of Brad and his coaching staff, the ballclub kept fighting and remained in contention for the postseason. Moving forward, we want to build off that progress."
June 24, 2017: The San Diego weather was summer-perfect for the Tigers as they prepared for the game against the Padres. A slight breeze cooled a sun that was warm, but far from sizzling.The temperature reading inside Tigers manager Brad Ausmus' office?
"I am not comfortable unless my [seat] is hot,'' he said with a smile.
It was a light moment for a skipper with a squad on the brink, losers of a season-high seven games. Detroit GM Al Avila said that the Tigers could be sellers at the trade deadline if they continue their current ways. Will they part ways with Ausmus as well? Avila seemed to understand the restraints Ausmus is managing with this season, but that doesn't cease the chatter that Ausmus might go.
"Two things I knew for sure coming in,'' Ausmus said. "A lot of what happens with a baseball team is out of the manager's control. And when I was hired, there was a good chance I might get fired. Not many managers leave on their own terms. It's just the nature of the job.''
Ausmus is in his last year of his contract and the season hasn't matured as planned. Since getting back to the .500 mark (29-29) on June 7, the Tigers have lost 12 of their 15 games to fall into the AL Central cellar. But Ausmus is dead-set against calling a clubhouse meeting just to check that box off.
"If it was a lack of effort or a lack of caring, then there would have to be a discussion,'' Ausmus said. "But I wish you could have been in the dugout; the energy couldn't have been better. They are pulling for each other; it just didn't happen. I don't need to tell them we haven't won lately. They are pretty aware of it. They get it. They care. They come in with good attitudes.''
The Tigers went through a similar skid last year in 2016, dropping seven straight. Ausmus stressed it's hardly uncharted territory for a team to scuffle. Ausmus played for the 1996 Tigers that won four games in September, which included dropping 12 straight. The season ended on a six-game losing streak. "I can't imagine what [manager] Buddy Bell was going through,'' Ausmus said. "You don't realize that as a player. You want to win, but you don't realize how much the manager and coaching staff hinges on winning and losing until you sit in this seat. That's why Jim Leyland said it was a lonely seat.''
In Ausmus' case, the inconvenient truth is his seat is warming. "All my chairs are heated,'' he said. "I like heated seats.''
The smile was back. But Ausmus turned serious in stating he's not grabbing any white towels. "I'm not folding up shop, that's not how I operate,'' he said. "I guess that's why I don't worry about it. You keep grinding and fighting until someone tells you, 'Hey we don't want you to grind and fight any more.''' (J Paris - MLB.com - June 24, 2017)
September 22, 2017: The Tigers announced that Ausmus will not be back as Detroit's manager in 2018.
November 21, 2017: Brad signed on with the Angels as a Special Assistant to the General Manager, Billy Eppler.
October 21, 2018: Ausmus was named the Angels new manager.
Oct 22, 2018: The Angels didn't go far in their search for a new manager, and they feel they've hired a candidate well-versed in blending old school scouting with new-age analytics and one who is well-prepared to interact and connect with their eclectic nucleus of young and veteran talent.
Ausmus spent the last season as a special assistant to Angels general manager Billy Eppler, and was manager of the Tigers from 2014-17, where he compiled a 314-332 record (.486 winning percentage) over his four seasons, including an American League Central title in his first year. Ausmus also played in the Majors for 18 seasons, with the Padres, Astros, Tigers and Dodgers.
Eppler touted Ausmus for his understanding and utilization of analytics, which have become more prevalent in today's game with each passing year. Ausmus, who assisted mostly on scouting and evaluations last season 2018, said he became more polished in the analytics arena, which was a top trait Eppler and the club were seeking in the hiring process. Eppler had said that the Angels' ideal managerial candidate that would specialize in probability-based decision processes.
"I really learned what is the meat and potatoes of analytics now and the amount of information. It was remarkable to me because I haven't seen it," Ausmus said of his role last season. "I think I'm a pretty quick study on it, but that was the crux of why, when Billy asked me to come over here, I thought it was going to be a really good fit."
"There's no question that experience is an asset," Ausmus said. "I think in every walk of life, experience is an asset. In managing, whether you experience something in the clubhouse or you experience something tactically on the field, rather than have to reconsider it, it becomes a little more reflexive. You can react to it and understand what the end result will be if you don't react quickly or properly."
For the second time, Ausmus is replacing a highly regarded manager. In Detroit, he took over for Jim Leyland and in L.A. he replaces Mike Scioscia, who led the Halos to a 1,650-1,428 (.536) record and the club's only World Series title, in 2002. Scioscia had been the longest active-tenured manager with the same club in MLB before he stepped down after the 2018 season when his 10-year contract expired.
Ausmus was teammates with Scioscia with the Padres in 1993, though Sciosia didn't play that year due to a rotator cuff injury. Ausmus said that Sciosia sent him a congratulatory text when the Angels made his hiring official.
"I really appreciate what [Scioscia] did. He immediately brought me in as part of the team in Spring Training, even on the field, in uniform, throwing batting practice or hitting some ground balls," Ausmus said. "Replacing him? It's not ever going to be easy to replace someone like Scioscia … [He] was here for 19 years. I don't know that we'll ever see that again. But I'm not here to try and be Mike Scioscia. He was a great, great manager. Maybe he continues to manage. But I'm not here to be Mike Scioscia."
The Angels, who held at least a tie for first place in the AL West as late as May 16 last season, finished in fourth at 80-82 and missed the postseason for the fourth consecutive season. (D Kramer - MLB.com - Oct 22, 2018:
- July 1995: Ausmus lacerated his right hand when he struck a water fountain in frustration.
February 26-March 5, 2007: Brad received a pain-killing cortisone injection in his right shoulder. His shoulder began bothering him in December, and he couldn't lift his arm by January. He had an MRI and an X-ray and was diagnosed with fluid in his rotator cuff.
"It got markedly better, but I could never get it over the hump where I could let it go," Ausmus said. "I could toss, but I couldn't let it go. I asked the doctor to inject it and get it past that last hump."
The cortison shot was the first one Brad had in about 10 years.
March 20, 2010: Ausmus had an epidural to relieve lower back pain.
April 9-July 24, 2010: Brad went on the D.L. with a portion of a disk in his back broke off and pressed against a nerve, causing numbness and weakness in his foot.